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It was a gathering of titans, the sage, rich, poor and people of all walks of life as the organizers of the “Nigeria Silent Heroes Award (NSH)” recently celebrated some living legends at the Ladi Kwali Hall of Sheraton Hotels, Abuja.

There were music, dance and merriment. There were also advice and motivational words of encouragement as the Nigerian Silent Heroes Awards honoured some unsung achievers from the media, police, military, business community, agriculturists and so many personalities.
The event which kicked off at 6pm, saw people pouring encomiums on the organizers for remembering not only the well-to -do, but also the unsung.

According to a guest, Mr Patrick Nnaji, “The event is one of the best because the organizers did not only remember the rich or policticians but they recognized those who did not have the inklings that they would ever be appreciated. I saw awardees expressing surprise that they were being recognized. This will make others, especially our youths to be more dedicated in whatever they are doing as they are now conscious that they may become silent heroes. This type of event should be recognized by the government at all levels to encourage people to do more and be dedicated in all that they do”.

However, chairman of the second edition of the NSH, Professor Epiphany Azinge, SAN, who described the event as one of the best of its kind in Nigeria said people should be conscious of their characters as they do not know who is watching them. Speaking to the audience, Prof Azinge, said, “I welcome all to this epochal event slated to celebrate Nigerians who have consistently shown demonstrable patriotism and unwavering commitment in the service of their fatherland. Over years, Nigeria has remained a nation in search of heroes. Not even the line of our National Anthem that posits ‘that the labour of our heroes past shall not be in vain’ seem to have underscored the essence and significance of throwing up heroes in all spheres and spectrum of our National life.

“Understandably, success in Nigeria is defined by wealth, political attainment, intellectual accomplishments; local recognition by your traditional authority, solidarity of business empire and crass flamboyant lifestyle or undignified showmanship. Heroes properly so-called are more often than not, relegated to the background of national or societal recognition.

“The main trust of today’s event therefore is to give vibe and vitality to deserving Nigerians who by their work, are eminently qualified to be celebrated as heroes and heroines. In pursuit of higher ideals and values, these deserving Nigerians have opted to silently and consistently continue their work far removed from klieg light from the media and from public space. They are unsung heroes.

“Heroes ideally should be recognized in any country. Whether by medals of honour in the armed forces for heroic achievements in war time; whether by institutions and organisations trying to change the narratives in our country by recognising our silent and unsung.

“Today, the ‘Silent Heroes Award Initiative’ in this second edition of its project has identified men and women qualified to be decorated as silent heroes of our time. These are men and women of integrity and distinction. They are role models and torchbearers in their own right and deserved to be celebrated by all Nigerians.

“No event in recent past have underscored the need for identifying and celebrating our heroes more than the #EndSARS protest. Our youths are also in search of person given to altruism and selfless service. Our youths want to learn the art of volunteerism; they want a Nigeria that is worth dying for and making the supreme sacrifice. They want us to reshape our conversation and change our mindset. My hearty congratulations to all the norminated awardees. Let this award spur you to do more in the service.”

However, the convener of the event, Mr Odita Sunday-Udemaguna, said the event was devinely planned as a way of victoriously ending the COVID-19 pandemic. “I say so because of the initiative to identify and recognize some silent achievers in their own right within our plural society, as we are about to witness today; could have died at the level of conception if not that God has a hand in the initiative.

“It is interesting to say that the NSHA is anchored on a process of identification, recognition and celebration of those whose life activities have positively impacted humanity within or outside their own immediate environment. Those who we are about to celebrate were carefully nominated among millions of others in view of the outstanding contribution they have made over the years in their various spheres to add value to humanity.

“In all honesty, I must say that the awardees of today in their individual capacities and activities, particularly in public space, have remained humble and not audacious in self-praise, inspite their outstanding achievements; hence we have chosen to honour them as silent heroes.

“‘Nigerian Silent Hero’ is my initiative, but I could not have gone far in actualising the vision if some individuals and organisations did not key into the vision or give support in their own way. I must therefore use this medium to express my deep appreciation to the management of United Bank of Africa (UBA), Zenith Bank and others for their encouragement and support.

“I want to say that the NSHA has come to stay as an annual event. In furtherance of the initiative, I like to disclose our intention to institute the ‘Africa Silent Heroes Awards’ in the nearest future with a view to celebrating our unsung achievers within the continent of Africa.”

The special guest of honour, Officer incharge of Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team ( IRT), DCP Abba Kyari, described the event as one of the best in Africa.

He said: “I have gone round the world and attended many awards’ ceremony but I am yet to see this kind of initiative where unsung heroes are being celebrated. I think this is good and people should key in to it as it is a reminder that even the low and the weak are being watched and acknowledged by people. Nigerians, especially the youths should know that there is no shortcuts to success. Those who are recognized today are not only the rich but the downtrodden. Those who are celebrated today are not being rewarded for the crimes that they committed but for their achivements and contributions to the society. So, I want you to be conscious of what you do as people are watching you. I repeat, if everybody is dedicated and putting in their best in whatever they do, Nigeria will be advanced. This is why those in Europe and America are more advanced than us because everybody is putting in their best.”

On his own, Nigerian Navy Public Relations Officer, Commodore Suleman Dahun, who was also a guest, said, “I will advise the youths to be very conscious of what they do and tilt towards hard work as it is the only way to succeed. It is not negotiable. We should embrace the virtues of hard work and must show patriotism in all that we do.”

An awardee, a gospel musician, Austin Adegwe, who performed at the event said, “I am proud of the the organizers of this event because I just started music not up to a year, yet I was nominated for this prestigious award. I am wondering why I was picked out of the rich, wealthy and popular artists. This is incredible and it shows that the organizers are impartial. What I owe them is prayers. The sky will not be their limit. The award has really shown me that I must be conscious of my daily activities and it has spurred me to do more and be more creative”.

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